Dr. Mary Harris is no ordinary doctor, and that’s just one of the reasons actress Caroline Dhavernas (Hannibal) jumped at the chance to be a part of Global’s upcoming series Mary Kills People. The series, created by Tara Armstrong with Tassie Cameron serving as showrunner, premieres Wednesday, January 25 and 9 p.m. ET on Global and on Lifetime in the U.S. on April 23 at 10 p.m. ET. Mary is an ER doctor by day, but spends her nights working as an underground angel of death, assisting patients that want to end things on their own terms.
With such a complicated and controversial subject matter there are plenty of stakes for the drama to explore, especially once police start to investigate Mary’s side business. Will she be able to balance her family, day job and side career helping terminal patients? That is what the drama will aim to explore in the six, one-hour episodes.
Dhavernas recently spoke to The TV Junkies about why she was excited to be a part of this series, it’s surprising tone given the subject matter and what complications may arise for Mary during the first season. Those complications include getting a little too close to one of her patients, Joel, played by Beauty and the Beast alum Jay Ryan.
The TV Junkies: Even though Mary is a very different type of doctor than Alanna Bloom, after Hannibal did you think you’d be playing another doctor? What drew you to this project and made you want to be a part of it?
Caroline Dhavernas: I didn’t know I was going to be playing another doctor, and I didn’t know I would be shooting again in Toronto so quickly. I just loved the subject matter and I think this character is very deep, beautiful and compassionate. I love all the gray zones and her contradictions. I’m very drawn to TV shows where the content is interesting and cable television has really showed us that people are there for content.
We’re lucky in Canada because things have started changing last June, but in many countries in the world it hasn’t been the case. So I think it’s a very beautiful way of reflecting on the subject and Mary of course feels very strongly that people should have the right to end their lives when they are terminally ill. Other characters on the show feel differently so I think the writers are exploring every angle of the subject in a very interesting way.
TTVJ: One of the things we really love about the show is the sheer number of women involved in it, both in front of and behind the scenes. What was that like for you as an actress, to be a part of a project that had such strong female gaze to it?
CD: It was wonderful and is something to be celebrated. It should be happening and will more often, but part of me feels like I don’t want to talk about it because it’s just how it should be. One day I was doing a scene with Charlotte Sullivan who plays my sister, and Tassie said to us after that it was so refreshing to see two actresses talking about something other than love and men in a scene. I realized that she was so right and it doesn’t happen very often. It was such a relief to know that it is possible.
TTVJ: This is a pretty exciting time for Canadian TV and there’s a lot of series like Mary Kills People that are coming out that feel a lot edgier and riskier. Now I know you’re from Canada and Hannibal shot in Toronto, but was the fact that this show was Canadian a draw for you?
CD: Yes, we’re always hoping for it to shine everywhere, so when Lifetime signed on that was very exciting. But it’s always great to see Canadians write beautiful shows and have Canadian talent. It’s happening more and more where many countries are doing magnificent shows that are shining all over the world. It’s not as important anymore where the show comes from because the platforms are there for people to see things that are made in different countries.
TTVJ: I was pleasantly surprised when watching the first couple episodes that given the subject matter it wasn’t a depressing show to watch.
CD: Exactly! I think that’s such an important thing to say because it can be seen that way with some. It’s also packed with adrenaline. There’s humor as well. It’s real life. There are funny moments, sad moments and a bit of everything.
TTVJ: Mary’s work is pretty dark and definitely dangerous so it’d certainly be understandable if that carried over to her personal life. Does that start to affect her?
CD: She can’t really share any of it with anyone except for Des (Richard Short) who is her partner in crime. She goes home at night and is loaded with all the pressure of what’s happening legally, as well as these deep moments she’s felt with these people she’s helping. Everything has to stay inside her and I don’t know how she does it. Personally, I would probably explode, so she’s a very strong lady.
TTVJ: Things get complicated for Mary when she’s drawn to her new patient Joel. What can you tell us about their relationship and what was it like getting to work with Jay Ryan on this project?
CD: He’s one of the first patients we meet and he rocks her world. She gets a little too close to him and that’ll eventually get her in trouble. Jay is fantastic and a brilliant actor, who on top of that is gorgeous. So he’s very easy to work with.
TTVJ: You mentioned that Mary has a sister, played by Rookie Blue’s Charlotte Sullivan, so what can you tell us about her family and those relationships that we’ll see?
CD: She and her sister have shared a lot that we’ll eventually get to learn about. I don’t want to reveal too much but their past is very loaded. Mary understands more than anyone why she feels people should have the right to choose, and her sister shares that past with her of course. So there are things she’s hiding from everyone that eventually her sister might be able to guess and understand. It’s a very cool relationship and it actually reminds me of my sister and I. But their father was never really there, and it was complicated with their mother so they’ve bonded in a way that not all siblings get to bond.
Are you excited for Mary Kills People? Sound off in the comments below! Find more of our thoughts about Mary Kills Peoplehere.
Mary Kills People premieres Wednesday, January 25 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Global. It will premiere on Lifetime in the U.S. on April 23 at 10 p.m.
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.